'You can't fluke second place'

Wednesday 28-March-2012 08:55

Mark Webber has paid tribute to Sergio Perez after his second place at the Malaysian GP, insisting the result was not just a slice of luck.

Sauber's decision to switch Perez to full wet tyres after just two laps paid great dividends for the Mexican as it meant that he leapfrogged many of his competitors who only pitted a few laps later once the wet conditions had deteriorated further.

The youngster held on to secure second spot on the podium and while some have said that it was a lucky break that heralded the result, Webber maintains that it is not the case.

"I don't think anyone would have expected Fernando Alonso to win the Malaysian Grand Prix for Ferrari or Sergio Perez to be second in the Sauber," Webber wrote in his column for the BBC.

"It was a surprise result but that can often happen when the heavens open like that.

"There are so many opportunities to make errors in those conditions, but their teams got their strategy calls and pit stops mostly right - and when Fernando and Perez got out front they weren't hanging around either.

"In the first part of the race, before it was stopped because of the heavy rain, Perez gained a lot of time by fitting full wet tyres after only two laps.

"The track was heading that way, but the trouble in Malaysia is you just don't know if the rain's suddenly going to stop - and when it does, it's so hot it dries up really quickly.

"All the front-runners stopped a couple of laps later, which meant Perez was third when the race was halted.

"He backed it up, though. You can't just fluke a strategy call and finish second - it's a long grand prix, the car was well balanced and he got the job done.

"As for Fernando, he had a smooth run and he took his opportunities, as he usually does."

Webber finished fourth in Malaysia, the same position he managed in Australia, and the Red Bull man admits he is content - but not overjoyed - with his start to the season.

"I'm reasonably satisfied with the way I've started the season, even though my Red Bull Racing team have not been as strong as in the last two years.

"I'm fourth in the championship, behind Fernando, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson, so it's been a solid start.

"The team have been brilliant all winter in helping me prepare, from the engineering side, through team principal Christian Horner and chief technical officer Adrian Newey - and it has been great to start the season in a positive way.

"I've got a pretty good feeling in the car and we made a definite step forward in performance in Malaysia.

"That's good but you're never satisfied until you're at the front, and we've got two weeks to try to ensure that's where we are for the next two races in China and Bahrain," he added.

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